Jeremy Laurance: Couple's great strength is that they shared the ordeal

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The Chandlers face another lengthy journey as they pick up the threads of the lives they left behind more than a year ago – but this one will be conducted in their heads.

Recovering from their ordeal will take months and the scars will remain for life, but a leading psychologist predicted yesterday that their prognosis was good. James Thompson, honorary senior lecturer in psychology at University College London, and an expert on rehabilitating hostages following their release, said it was rare for a husband and wife to be kidnapped and held together – but it could be protective for both of them.

"This is a couple who decided together to do something reasonably adventurous. That suggests they have a good and strong relationship and perhaps more bravery than the average citizen. These are all protective factors and the prediction would be that their relationship would be stronger as a result. Often it is the man who is held while his wife is at home, and though he may have been through hell it is impossible for him to communicate that he is not in danger. The big problem for returning hostages is that they cannot tell all the details of what happened to them – that they participated in a series of activities, that they humiliated themselves or prostituted themselves.

"The Chandlers don't face that because they were together and had each other most of the time, and know what each other went through. Although they were separated, they have had a chance to talk that through, to ask each other what happened, and to discuss how they feared they would never see each other again."

However, he said it was likely that the ransom payment and the legacy they have left for other yachtsmen and women would weigh upon them. "They had warnings from friends not to go. Not only will they ask themselves if they were worth the ransom payment, but also whether it will trigger other episodes of yachts being taken."

Dr Thompson said the best people to help them over their ordeal were those close to them. "They should talk to their family first and then to those whose advice they relied on before they set out."

He also advised the Chandlers to take time considering newspaper bids for their story. "Avoid the press until the euphoria is over."

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